Perception in HQ2

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Perception in HQ2 Submitted by pansophy on Wed, 07/11/2012 – 21:37

Hello Forum,

I have the following situation: the players are to cross dark woodlands to reach a destination. In the woods, there is a possibility the characters could run into traps laid out by some cannibals. If they see the traps in time (befor anybody gets trapped), the cannibals will attack them during the night.

So, this is written for a simulationist RPG and typically the characters would make perception rolls to find the traps.

How would I frame this as a contest in HQ2? I think I could just make the whole journey through the woodlands a Group Simple Contest asking how the players want their characters to pass the first day through it. Depending on their results I could then come up with graduated results (e.g. let them find the traps or not, let them be awake when camping to see the attack coming or not, etc).

Actually, while writing this down now, it seems a totally plausible Contest. It adds to the story progress and could add drama. Nice. Love the system. 😉

But how would you resolve this situation? Similar?

‹ Lingering Benefits / States of Adversities Doing things without skills ›

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Other way round

Submitted by David on Thu, 08/11/2012 – 05:31.

Let the players frame the contest first after hearing the description of what they had come up against (as per HQ2 page 21 “Naming the prize: Narrators start framing the contest by asking the involved player(s) what prize they’re trying to win, or what goal they’re hoping to achieve.):

“There are dark woodlands to cross before you reach your destination”, what do you want the outcome to be.

See what they come up with. Players always surprise me with their ideas.

Also the Decision Tree on page 70 is always (IMO) a good tool in situations like this. When I find myself overthinking a problem, I look at this.


David Scott

Framing for Dummies

Submitted by BlindGuyNW on Thu, 08/11/2012 – 14:43.

Hi All,

This topic brings up a point I’ve been wondering about for a while now. I’m primarily used to task resolution systems, such as RuneQuest. Framing as a concept is a bit foreign to my way of thinking.

Is it simply a matter of asking the question given up thread, or some variation thereof? I think my players are equally used to task resolution, so the concept isn’t easy for them to grasp either.

There is a tendency in my group to jump straight to picking an ability to use, without thinking much about prizes or overarching goals. It’s very much an emulation of task resolution.

Any general advice on this would be greatly appreciated. Sorry to hijack the thread, but it seemed at least tangentially related.

It took me some time

Submitted by pansophy on Thu, 08/11/2012 – 18:30.

In the beginning, it was the same for us: using an Attribute as you would a Skill. But then I always had problems in coming up with the narration after the “task” was resolved, because I had no idea what the goal was.

So I made a big sign: “Phrase the Goal and think of the possible outcome BEFORE rolling the dice”

It helped to remember. Now each side first names the prize or goal, then rolls the die. I also came up with some example goals:

instead of simply fighting a threat to the death: Overcome the enemy, force the enemy to surrender, escape the enemy, fight until the enemy withdraws, etc.

A good example in my Post-Apocalyptic game was, as the group decided to jump over to an other roof top, instead of fighting a huge Lizard. During this Group Simple Contest, two players used their fighting skills to keep the lizard at bay, one scouted the way ahead through the rubble on top of the current roof, and two others used Abilities to pick up their camping equipment from the night.

The outcome was the two guys picking up stuff messed it up a bit (so they did not get all of their gear back), the mail combat character did a Major Victory and kept the lizard at bay while the remaining charactes got a Marginal Victoryto scout ahead.

Overall it was a Minor Victory and since I knew the goal, narrating the outcome was easy.

It was a highly dramatic scene, it was a combat, BUT since the goal was a different one than slaying the lizard, three characters used abilities other than combat ones to succeed in this Contest. It was a blast and we had suddenly a very good impression, how HQ2 could work and handle a combat scene in a different way. A key moment for us.

After that, hack and slash was boring, and now we are addicted.

When phrasing a goal, you have to think ahead. What is it really, you want to archive? What is the abstract goal you would do an action?

Bartering: do not barter over a certain item, instead persuade the merchant in a direction, so he is willing to accept less cash for his items. This makes it possible to use a lot more Abilities than “bartering”. One could intimidate, the other seduce, and the third barter with the merchant.

Navigation: could be phrased as “reach destination X to avoid trouble”. Opens the Abilities: navigate, woodsman, knowledge of trees, tracking footprints, knowledge of area X, Horse riding, move silently, scout ahead, etc.

The goal here is not only to navigate through a territory, but to really reach a destination. Depending on Abilities used, the group might evade encounters, meet other people, find interesting places or reach their destination faster. It all depends on their outcomes – and on the phrasing.

When phrasing I now include the word “to” in my sentence. It reminds me to think of the goal as an abstract term, specified by supporting tasks to reach it. This opens up a lot more possible Abilities to use.

“Create a good sword TO fight the enemies of the tribe” – this shifted my initial goal “create a sword” to a more abstract one “fight the enemies of the tribe” – which was my real goal I had in mind but forgot to phrase it correctly. Knowing this, I now can rephrase my goal to a more concrete one: “Fight the advancing forces of the enemy, so they will withdraw.”

Try it out, it works more often than not and at least reminds you to think about your phrasing 😉





Submitted by BlindGuyNW on Fri, 09/11/2012 – 10:57.

This is quite helpful. I appreciate more concrete examples from actual play than contrived examples from a rulebook, at least in the case of a game like HQ. Now, to help my players get the idea…

Something else to help describing the goal

Submitted by pansophy on Mon, 27/05/2013 – 20:25.

I just wanted to add: it helps a lot, if you make up your mind about possible outcomes BEFORE rolling dice. Especially think about “what happens if the characters FAIL”.

It is very easy to describe an outcome when the characters are victorious (because you discussed the goal upfront), but if you have not thought about possible failures, a defeat can be hard to describe. Worst thing is: you need to assign States of Adversity, even for a marginal defeat. Without thinking about it beforehand, the story stops.

Discussing the possibility and outcome of a failure upfront also makes sure the players know what is at risk and they can spend Hero Points in a if necessary.

Make a big sign, place it on the table:

– Describe the goal

– discuss the goal of a victory

– think about a possible defeat and the risk

– rethink the options and alternatives

– maybe roll dice

It is absolutely OK to discuss the parameters of a Contest for a few minutes BEFORE rolling any dice. A Contest in HQ2 is not “just” a skill roll, it is something big that may have a huge impact on the story. If you fail a Skill roll in an other RPG, you can usually work around it and do something different. If you fail a Contest in HQ2, you might be in a position that endangers the whole storyline.

Also, many RPGs tell you “if there is enough time and no stress, a character will usually pass every skill test”. Same is true for HQ2: if there is no time pressure and no stress/danger at all, you should not roll for a Contest. Simply let the player with the most fitting Ability describe how the group passes the obstacle.

Always remember: HQ2 is a Storytelling game. Not a Task simulator. 😉




I like your way of phrasing it

Submitted by pansophy on Thu, 08/11/2012 – 06:55.

Yes, That’s what I had in mind 🙂 But I like the way you phrase it.

The hint towards the decision tree is good, I need to read the rules a few more times to really remember them. The book is packed with a lot of useful information, that is easily overread. I just yesterday found the rule to make Conflicts more dangerous, a small paragraph, but nevertheless very helpful.

Awesome rules, they surprise me every time again.




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